A Picture of Perfection

Never work with children or animals… easier said than done when you’re a parent. Over the last few years I have tried many times to get the perfect photograph. With one child, trial and error often results in an image you are happy with. And with the advent of the digital camera, dud photos are a thing of the past. However, with three children, I’ve finally realised it’s not possible to get the perfect picture, even with the help of a professional photographer!

I recently enlisted the help of such a man for the all-important christening photos. All dressed up and looking the picture of perfection, my husband and I set off with our adorable little troop to the studio!

Upon arrival our eldest took off upstairs with his eldest, our middle one trailing behind.

The baby then decided he absolutely had to be fed! As a breastfeeding mum it was no mean feat undoing my not very practical top to quite literally feed his demand! Eyes averted and a hastily placed teacloth spared some blushes, as we all waited until baby had his fill.

Finally, everyone gathered together, we were ushered into the studio, only for our eldest daughter to put on a display worthy of a two year old – and she is six! Tempers fraying we waited, coaxed and encouraged her to act her age!

Needless to say the session ran into overtime, the photos were hastily shot and as we left we vowed never to put ourselves or any photographer through such an ordeal again!

They say every picture tells a story. We received our pictures with trepidation. Amazingly the photographer had captured some wonderful angelic moments – although we still have some trouble believing the children in the pictures are ours. Maybe some new photographic wizardry replaced sullen angry little people with little shiny happy people.

However it happened, neither of us can look at the pictures without being transported right back to the stress of the day itself.

And so the beautiful photographs languish at the back of the wardrobe until such a time as we can laugh about the situation and our own naivety as parents.

A Garden Of Roses: Character Relationships In “Marimite”

While Japanese animation is better known for having flashy special effects and obscenely choreographed fight scenes, there are other shows out there that offer a very distinct visual treat. Some shows become sleeper hits, never really making the headlines but having special places in the hearts of more…discerning anime fans. Among these shows is “Maria-sama ga Miteru,” (affectionately called “Marimite” by fans) which is a show that focuses heavily on the characters’ everyday lives, relationships, and personal complexities. Unlike most other anime, “Marimite” has no plot to follow, with the story instead taking time to examine each character in turn. The focus often falls on the relationship a character has with their closest companion, but can also delve deeply into the themes like how their connection with others gives them emotional stability. Some episodes highlight the depth of the devotion that the characters have for each other.

For example, several different chapters delved deeply into the emotional trauma that one of the major characters experienced. The story is one that is told in every high school, with two lovers being forced apart for some reason. In the case of “Marimite,” it could be boiled down to one-sided anxiety in the affair. One of the girls in question, Shiori, was afraid of what would happen if she let go of her lifelong dream and decided to abandon her budding romance with Sei in favor of the stability of pursuing a goal. The nature of the relationship and the ominous end was studied in an early chapter but her recovery, thanks to her friends, was examined more deeply later on in the story. For most fans, that collective “story arc” is considered to be among the chief highlights of the show and is cited as among the most emotionally stirring moments in the history of anime.

Much more prominent, but arguably less dramatic, is the growing relationship between the main character, Yumi, and her idol, Sachiko. The pair, as noted by observers who are close to them, seem to be rather different from one another. Yumi is an ordinary girl who often sees herself as normal in every way, with more than her fair share of fear and anxiety at being in such close proximity to girls whom she saw as the “royalty” of the school. Sachiko, on the other hand, was every inch a princess bred for the sole purpose of fulfilling a role and maintaining appearances. Their growing ties with one another, along with just how much they influence and cherish one another, is the most prominent among the running threads of the show. As the story progresses, Sachiko slowly starts to open up more and learn to let go of her mask of emotional stability when needed. At the same time, Yumi is learning to become more confident with herself, along with learning to get better control of her emotional outbursts.

Ultimately, there are several other relationship threads and emotional connections than the ones presented above. The friendships between girls of the same year-level, their interactions with those that are ahead of them, and the recurring visits of girls who have already graduated offer glimpses into the depth of the closeness the cast shares. As some fans of the show have said, each girl is a window in every other girl’s soul, often appearing as either a reflection of something inside them or as that unidentifiable piece that is missing from their lives. The show certainly lacks the capacity for epic drama, but then again, it is a show about ordinary lives and ordinary girls. Really, how much “epic drama” does the average girl have to look forward to, anyway?

The Characteristics of Soul

At the dawn of spring, I am reminded by my children the joy of anticipating new life.

They will usually see a flower or two that has made its way through the soil to a world beyond itself. What starts out as a seedling or bulb is transformed by nature’s capacity to evolve.

Inside each of us lies dormant an awareness, an identity, an ability to grow beyond what we appear to be. Every moment, we are being challenged by others and by circumstances to create a life that exceeds our present state of living.

To move toward our highest good takes a willingness on our part to let go of what we know to what can be known in and through us. You and I are part of the Created Order we see around us, and we are participants in Creating Order out of what we have been given to care for.

With this in mind, let us turn to ways our soul can be described in the characteristics that make up a flower:

1. The Ground.

The ground nurtures, protects, and gives birth to a flower. Inside the womb of the ground, life is taking root long before we can see it. Because we cannot see a flower that has been planted in the earth, does not mean life is not being created. To be full participants in our world means to be fully connected and rooted in the world we have been given.

2. The Stem.

The stem begins its growth in the earth below and into the sky above. This part of the flower is the connecting characteristic of the plant. Much like humanity, we are in this world without being fully of it. This creates a sacredness to our lives. It is our unique ability to live and grow in a way no one ever has, is, or ever will.

3. The Flower.

In full bloom, a flower is the illumination of all the life that has preceded it. The radiance and color that pour out of it create life. Notice the next time you look at a flower how you are affected by it. You may notice your heart open and be filled with joy. Or, you may notice more energy and clarity in your vision for being blessed with great beauty.

4. The Spirit of a Flower.

The spirit of a flower is the life force moving in and through it. It is the essence of a flower that identifies with your spirit. This part of you opens from the inside out and becomes ONE with the spirit of a flower. It is the same energy that runs in and through you. Like a flower, you begin to radiate your own soul from the essence of your own being.

Each spring, take the time to notice the part of you opening up to new life. Just like flowers, we grow from the inside out. What illuminates in our life began inside us. We nurture these inner qualities of attention until they eventually take root and grow into our daily lives. The growth that follows is created from what we attend to or hold our attention on within us.

Like the pedals of a flower opening to the world around it, we create a presence of awareness. In full bloom, the beauty or the lack thereof touches the lives of everyone around us. As our inner patterns of attention move through us, the world illuminates the seeds of awareness contained within us for so long. Here, a life is created. It is the life of our soul

The Essence of Freedom

Life is too hard and too risky in the eyes of many. By contrast, others are such proponents of a virile existence, demanding great courage and giving great pride, that they are ready to leave the coziness of their home to scale Mount Everest and breast the elements for the sheer joy of conquering the summit. Whatever the perspective, the nature of things remains unchanged. There are rules, necessities and duties, and limits, possibilities and impossibilities. Until doom, one can accept them and make the best of them, much to one’s pleasure and honor, or one can do the opposite and suffer the consequences. The choice between these two options is the very essence of freedom. Personally, I have no use for the second option: a self-inflicted misery that is without the slightest doubt a pitiable way of life.

The first option, on the other hand, is a pleasurable and honorable alternative that I find compelling, though uphill. It is applicable to any situation encountered in the course of one’s living venture, provided one is not unfortunate to the point of being hopelessly unable to cope. The range of this applicability corresponds with the range of one’s adaptability. It is normally considerable, despite the tendency to cling to old gratifying habits even after they have become impracticable or unsuitable, owing to a change of situation. One can be weaned from such habits onto new gratifying habits, in the same way as a baby can be weaned onto solids. The more the change is significant and one is reluctant to adapt to it, the more the weaning process is difficult and long in producing the desired effect. Again, the only option worthy of one’s attention consists in taking things as they come and making the most of them, for one’s sake and that of others. The reverse is foolish and harmful, a deplorable waste of humanity.

On the whole, the power to live in a well-adjusted and high-minded way and the freedom to choose this way in preference to the alternate, illegitimate, way are the foundations of the life one builds. The exercise of this power does not necessarily imply a principled resignation toward the status quo. One may be faced with a remediable evil that calls for a struggle to remedy it, effectively and rightly. In that case, living in a well-adjusted and high-minded way entails accepting the need for this struggle and the means of waging it, and sparing no effort to attain one’s end. Ills are a test of will, an opportunity to show dignity.

They are also an opportunity to probe and appraise one’s inner resources. Over the years, I have improved my situation and especially my attitude, whose negativity was the most unfavorable and improvable aspect of my life. In so doing, I have discovered my true richness. Nature has endowed me with an adaptable capacity for happiness within the limits of my changeable reality. According to my observations, this capacity is not unusually great, compared with that of most people. I am even tempted to think it is somewhat lagging behind. Eleven years plus to adapt in triumph to my physical disability is no feat for the Guinness Book of World Records!

During that time, the riddle of life had more or less baffled me. Yet, laboriously, with the help of many books and much thought, I had managed by degrees to clear it up, enough to find a meaning to my life. This riddle is comparable to a mire: The slower you go through it, the deeper you get into it. Perhaps thinkers are commonly untalented in the art of living and their saving grace is their dogged determination to redeem this lack of talent by dint of studying the human soul. Amusingly enough, these untalented individuals are often perceived as gifted, once they have seen the light and reflected it with the numerous mirrors of an elaborate analysis, after a tentative and protracted search in the dark.

This sort of overcompensation is typical of people who experience difficulties in a certain area, but refuse to admit defeat. While some fare well in this area with a minimum of effort, they try hard to overcome these difficulties, with the result that they often fare better than the others. Their redeeming feature is their willpower in the face of their shortcoming, which they use as a reason to redouble their efforts, not as an excuse to throw in the towel. This is a recipe for a worthy success. They discipline and surpass themselves, and thus proudly turn things around.

A gadget makes your life easier

In this article I will debate the main points of why and how the gadgets can significantly improve our life.
Gadgets are enjoyable
First of all gadgets are very cool and they make us smile and say: wow, it’s great! A gadget can always make you feel better because they access your deepest needs: comfort, security, usefulness and maybe most important, you can play with them. Some would say that they like gadgets because it makes their life easier. In my opinion we love gadgets because gadgets are toys. Gadgets are toys for the big boys or girls. We really enjoy playing with them, testing them and integrating them in our lifes. Babies have suzettes we have gadgets.
Gadgets equal many products in one
The best example is the Swiss Army Knife: knife, fork, spoon, screwdriver, tweezers, lantern, compass etc. In one compact product you get 10-50 other products. This is a very important characteristic of a gadget. A gadget incorporates every time more than one product.
Gadgets make our life easier
Let’s take for example the Thonka headband for iPod. It is was designed to help Ipod users not to carry their iPod in their pockets. Who wouldn’t want to have their hands free. For some users who like jogging this could be a very useful gadgets. When you will go for a run your iPod will not jump from your pocket, your hair will stay in place and your sweat will be retained.
That’s why it is important for you to stay up to date with the new gadgets. Being a gadget fan will help you to be more productive and you’ll be able to concentrate more on your goals and job. Of course you must read gadgets reviews. A problem can occur when you become obsessed with gadgets (a gadget freak) and you buy gadgets only because they are the latest available and you must have them. We could say you are a big kid if you are doing that. It’s ok to play with gadgets but moderation is the main key word here.
Gadgets save us space
One important point is that gadgets help us save space. The “saving space” utility it’s a derivate of the principle “many products in one”. Let’s take for example the BlackBerry cell phone. The BlackBerry is a small stylish cell phone with the capabilities of a laptop. Of course it’s not a laptop or a notebook but with one single product you can talk, send e-mails, edit world documents, navigate on the Internet, chat and so on. For some dollars you get a nice piece of technology. Also it’s very important to point out that the BlackBerry is cheaper than a notebook.
Conclusion: Gadgets make our life easier, save our money and most important